Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights


by Carol J. Howard

During my freshman year in college, I went out several times with Jim. I don't remember his last name. Actually, I went out with three different Jims, and I don't remember any of their last names. This particular Jim was memorable, in part, for his surprise arrivals - like jumping out of a tree at me. Teenage boys have a strange sense of the romantic.

This Jim also discovered a way to get us up onto the roof of the athletic building, complete with view of Snelling Avenue. Again, not the most romantic of settings, but Jim made up for that with enthusiasm. He was especially enthusiastic about the "pididdle" game I taught him.

A "pididdle" is a car with one headlight out. That's worth one point. A car with one taillight out is a "cyclops" - three points. And a "hydra" - a car with the red of the taillight broken so the white light shows through - counts for five points. The points are collected in kisses.

The beauty of the game, of course, is that it doesn't matter who scores more points - you get kissed either way. And a rooftop overlooking Snelling Avenue at night was a great place for pididdle watching. Not terribly comfortable, though, as far as kissing places go.

I had learned the pididdle game from Bob, my high school boyfriend, who was, in fact, still my steady boyfriend. I saw no harm in sharing the game, though of course I didn't tell Bob that.

Bob and I attended different colleges but we both remained in the Twin Cities. So we could be together. But not all the time, please. Freshman year in college is no time to have steady boyfriend who has already been your steady boyfriend for two years.

Sometime during that same fall, I went to a school dance with Rich. I liked Rich a lot. I never got a chance to teach him the pididdle game, though. Bob showed up at the dance, drunk, with a couple of his friends from his college. I don't remember telling Bob about the dance. In fact, I'm quite sure I did not.

Either way, I was not amused. Rich was not pleased. Not with Bob. Definitely not with me. He noticed then that I was wearing Bob's high school ring. You could tell it wasn't my ring, because of the wad of yarn wrapped around the band so the ring wouldn't slip off my finger. That kind of ring clearly says you're going steady. Well, there is steady and there is pretty steady. Like the old song, "I'm always true to you, darling, in my fashion…"

Rich never asked me out again. I married Bob four years later. We did not live happily ever after.

Carol J. Howard is author of the nonfiction book "Dolphin Chronicles" (Bantam, 1996). She currently works as a science writer for the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT). She lives in Baltimore with her husband, teenage daughter, chocolate lab, and tabby cat (one of each is all she can handle).

Eighteenth Flash

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